Handheld Device Markup Language


Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) is a language used to create websites and applications suited for small, handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets. It is similar to HTML but with a simplified format to accommodate smaller screens and limited bandwidth capabilities. HDML, although largely superseded by Wireless Markup Language (WML), has played a significant part in the early development of mobile web technology.


“hændheld diˈvʌɪs ˈmɑrkəp ˈlæŋɡwɪdʒ”

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) is one of the first markup languages developed specifically for mobile devices. It is designed to format data and websites for small screens and limited user interfaces.</li> <li>Despite its early prominence, HDML has largely been replaced by more modern languages such as Wireless Markup Language (WML) and XHTML. These newer languages have more features and wider support across devices.</li><li>HDML is not widely used today, but it remains an important milestone in the evolution of mobile internet. Its development highlighted the need for device-specific languages and paved the way for the diverse range of mobile web tools we have today.</li></ol>


Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) is significant in the field of technology as it was one of the first programming languages designed specifically for displaying internet content on handheld devices such as mobile phones and PDAs. Developed by Unwired Planet in the mid-1990s, HDML provided the foundation for presentation and navigation on small-screen devices, effectively paving the way for advanced mobile web browsing. By tailoring content to the limitations of handheld devices, HDML was critical in making the internet more accessible and flexible, leading to the rapid growth and evolution of mobile technology we see today. Despite being replaced by more advanced languages such as Wireless Markup Language (WML) and then XHTML, the importance of HDML is still acknowledged in the technology industry.


Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) is predominantly used to format content for small screens on handheld devices such as mobile phones and PDAs. It functions as a language that allows website developers to write codes for web pages that are specially intended to be viewed on these small screens. HDML is designed to accommodate the limitations of handheld devices like limited memory, lower bandwidth, and small screen sizes. By creating compact and efficient codes, HDML ensures that the websites render correctly and are easily navigable on the small screens of handheld devices.The essential purpose of HDML is to make websites and web-based applications accessible and user-friendly on handheld devices. It essentially bridges the gap between the world wide web and mobile devices, thus greatly adding to the mobility and portability of internet access. Used in the right context, such as mobile browsing, HDML can provide users with a comfortable and enjoyable internet surfing experience, making information and online services more accessible on the go. Despite the advent of more up-to-date technologies, HDML plays a historical role in paving the way to mobile web browsing.


1. Smartphones and Tablets: Today, a vast majority of all smartphone and tablet applications use Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) in some capacity. For instance, when shopping online through a mobile application like Amazon, the behind-the-scenes infrastructure needed to load product specifications, prices, pictures, and other elements is built using markup languages like HDML.2. GPS Navigation Systems: HDML is also used in devices like GPS navigation systems that are handheld or embedded within a vehicle. These systems use HDML to display maps, routes, point of interest information, traffic updates, and much more.3. E-Readers: E-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, use HDML as part of their technology. The textual content delivered to these devices, including the dynamically changing text settings (like font size adjustments), are often formatted using markup languages like HDML.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML)?A: Handheld Device Markup Language, or HDML, is a language used to format content for handheld devices like smartphones. It was primarily designed for devices with small displays and limited user input capabilities.Q: Who developed HDML?A: HDML was developed by the company Unwired Planet, which later became known as and then Openwave.Q: What is the purpose of HDML?A: The main purpose of HDML is to simplify the delivery of web content to small, handheld devices. It aids in creating web pages that could be easily read and navigated on the small screens of such devices.Q: How does HDML work?A: HDML works by formatting web content in a way that’s easy for handheld devices to interpret and display. HDML is written in a way that handheld devices can “understand,” even with their limited computing power and functionality.Q: Is HDML the same as HTML?A: No, while they are both markup languages used to create web pages, they are different. HDML is optimized for handheld devices with smaller screens and limited input options, whereas HTML is used for browsers and screens of all sizes. Q: Is HDML still in use today?A: While HDML played a significant role in the early days of mobile browsing, it’s no longer widely used. As more powerful devices and more sophisticated web languages became available, HDML was replaced with other technologies such as WML (Wireless Markup Language) and XHTML-Mobile Profile.Q: Which devices support HDML?A: HDML was primarily designed for early handheld devices. Modern devices usually don’t support HDML due to advancements in technology and the rise of new markup languages.Q: Do I need to learn HDML in today’s scenario?A: Given that HDML usage is quite obsolete, it’s not really a required skillset for most developers today. However, if you’re working with very old handheld web technologies, it may still be useful.

Related Tech Terms

  • WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)
  • Microbrowser
  • Mobile HTML
  • Markup Language
  • Mobile Web Browsing

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